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Big Blue Nation Linkapalooza: Rivalry Edition

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Today's linkapalooza has a ton of rivalry stuff, some good recruiting news, and all kinds of Calipari vs. Pitino in almost every imaginable way, shape, and form.

Here we go.

Past Imperfect: Kentucky-Louisville & the Dream Game // Rush The Court

The loss devastated the Kentucky players and coaches. The fans were apoplectic. Hall’s wife Katherine was so upset at watching her husband lose such a big game she lashed out at the media, quite literally. Grabbing the coat of a Louisville sportswriter she felt was an antagonist of Hall’s, she screamed "Are you satisfied now? You’ve taken one of the finest men on the face of the earth and ruined him with your writing."

Great piece of writing by Josh Wiell, whom we all know as JL Blue.

My Christian Laettner moment - UCLA // The Orange County Register

Left coast douchbaggery at its finest. For heaven's sake, leave this idiot alone to drown in his own self-importance. Besides, Mike Miller of NBC has done our work for us. Thanks, Mike.

Source: Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum to explore professional options, enter NBA draft // CollegeBasketballTalk

Oh dear, you mean a "student-athlete" at a school not named Kentucky is going to consider skipping college to go pro? The humanity!

Bob Knight, your office is on line 1.

Guestie: Kentucky and Pitino — a hate-love story // TVFury

Well, good luck with this. I just found it a bit... something. It made my head hurt.

Kentucky-Louisville is no ordinary rivalry //

But this still is a deeply ingrained culture clash as much as a basketball clash. It is city vs. country. It is an island republic metropolitan area vs. a more rural demographic that stretches from the Mississippi River in the west to the Appalachian mountains in the east. It is the best urban-school fan base in America vs. the best fan base in America, period.

When Forde's not writing about Calipari, he can be pretty good.

At the Watercooler: Kentucky vs. Louisville // ESPN

What to expect: The DNA of how Final Four teams measure against each other // CBSSports

Pretty good article by Matt Norlander.

Comparing and contrasting Kentucky’s John Calipari and Louisville’s Rick Pitino -

The story, true or false, adds to Calipari’s reputation as a Jerry Tarkanian-like rebel. Massachusetts and Memphis each had to vacate its Final Four appearance because of recruiting violations that occurred on Cal’s watch. But when the sanctions went down, Calipari was gone — from Massachusetts to the Nets and from Memphis to Kentucky.

Why? Why do the media have to get this wrong every time? Neither the Memphis nor Massachusetts NCAA problems had anything to do with recruiting. Is it really that hard just to say "NCAA violations?"

It's no wonder everyone is so suspicious of Calipari's recruiting -- every single article I read with very few exceptions accuses Calipari of, at minimum, having "recruiting violations" happen on his watch. It isn't true. It never has been true. This is Goebels "Big Lie" type stuff that just will not go away.

Analyst Steve Kerr OK with Kentucky being feeder program //

And Kerr, also a TNT NBA analyst, doesn't have a problem with Kentucky as an NBA feeder system — given the NBA won't draft players until a year after their high school class graduated. "(Kentucky coach John Calipari) has a niche going — convincing guys they'll be ready for the NBA after one year," Kerr says. "And I have a lot of respect for John's approach, given the rule is what it is."

Louisville's Pitino agitates Kentucky fans

Now Pitino is the one looking up at Calipari. But Calipari has to know that no matter how many times he tries to minimize it, this Final Four has become all the more daunting because he simply can't lose to Pitino. That crazy UK fan base will die a thousand deaths if he does.

I won't lie, a loss to Louisville would be historically tough to take. But somehow we would get through. We always have after tough losses.

Disclaimer: I like our spot.

Why can't the stars stay in college? // Courier-Post

guess we should all just savor the next few games and understand that we won’t likely see these same teams assembled next year.

I understand it, but I just wish there were another way.

There is another way. It is called an NBA collective bargaining agreement that sets the draft age higher.

McCARTHY: Carnage awaits in Kentcky | The Daily Free Press

The rivalry between the University of Kentucky Wildcats and the University of Louisville Cardinals is the fiercest in college basketball. Those that believe otherwise are not so much wrong as they are uninformed. The media darling that is UNC-Duke is a good one to be sure, but it simply does not match the bitter hatred that engulfs the battle of the bluegrass.

What truly separates Kentucky-Louisville from UNC-Duke is that the people in Kentucky simply care more.

This. Recommended.

NCAA Tournament – Luke Winn – // Posts Visualizing the Final Foursome

Nice try by Luke Winn, but this Kentucky-Louisville game isn't going to be a grinder, although I do expect UK to try to control the pace.

SLAM ONLINE // Shabazz Muhammad, Diary 4

Right now I’ve got it down to five schools: UCLA, Kentucky, Duke, UNLV and Kansas. I’ll probably cut it down to three before I make my announcement — I’m planning to do it April 10 when we’re in Charlotte for the Jordan Classic. Yeah, I’m probably going to do the choose-a-hat thing. That’s always fun—except for the schools you don’t pick, I guess.

NCAA Final Four: Why You Should Feel Sorry For Kentucky Fans //

That's why they've made peace with Calipari, a man who has pushed the mercenary limits of the amateur sport. The school's athletic department erected a billboard of Davis in New Orleans—copying a classic Michael Jordan pose. Rapper Jay-Z even appeared courtside in dumpy Rupp Arena for the regular-season Louisville game.

I called out a writer in email the other day for using the word "mercenary" to describe Kentucky's players. I do so again here.

While it seems totally apropos in some respects, the idea that kids in college can be referred to as "mercenaries," which calls to mind soldiers of fortune loyal only to money, is beyond unethical. Every player but a tiny, perverse minority in college basketball would be a "mercenary" if someone from the NBA offered them millions. Yet nobody seems to either recognize that fact, or acknowledge it. Players who are in for four years are almost to a man only there that long because they have no choice, or they are trying to improve their draft position.

Have you ever heard of a great basketball player who took a scholarship to law school rather than a first-round draft pick in modern times? No? Surprised? I sure as hell hope not.

This is written by a Louisville fan, so I'm not really surprised. They cannot write anything about Kentucky without including something pejorative.

Kentucky's Overlooked Weapon: Calipari's Offense -

It is here that Calipari has made an exceptional adjustment. The greatest weakness of playing slow-it-down basketball is that the beginning of the shot clock is not used effectively. A team walks the ball up the court, makes a number of perimeter passes, and does not even attempt to score until the last ten or fifteen seconds of the shot clock. Calipari has his players do the opposite. They push the ball up the court every possession and they do so under control.

This guy absolutely gets basketball. He is exactly right about how Calipari runs his offense with this team. Good read.

Louisville's Keys to Beating the Kentucky Wildcats in the Final Four: Fan Take //

Louisville can't run with Kentucky. If they try to outscore the Wildcats, it won't end up well. Just ask the Hoosiers. The Cards need to keep the score in the 50s to keep the game close. Kentucky hasn't had a close game yet in the tournament. In a rivalry game like this, the Cardinals would love for the young Wildcat squad to tighten up on a big stage like the Final Four.

Let me ask the author: How many Louisville players on this team have ever been to a Final Four? Let me give him a hint: Zero.

Guess how many Kentucky players have been to the Final Four? Well, we know, of course -- 3. So how, exactly, does the pressure get to Kentucky faster than Louisville? Just askin'.

Column: Why Kentucky's John Calipari Will Return to NBA

My advice? Don’t do it, John.

Calipari, though, won’t listen. A jump to the NBA, which is littered with his former players, is inevitable as it will be too tempting for him to turn down.

Sigh. He means well, he really does. But this is wishful thinking. Calipari is going nowhere.

Deconstructing the Louisville-Kentucky Rivalry to the Rest of America // Rush The Court

All kidding aside, Dream Game II will without question be the most-watched event in the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s history. While the Kentucky Derby may get more worldwide attention, the truth is that most Kentuckians don’t know any more about the Sport of Kings than they do about navigating the New York City subway system — the first Saturday in May is mostly viewed as a neat aside for the state to put on its happy face and throw a grandiose party. But as far as college basketball, this is a sophisticated crowd whose knowledge and passion cuts through all the cultural, class and racial fissures that exist in any modern society. And this rivalry between Louisville and Kentucky exhibits that perhaps better than any other such local tussle in the sport — let’s look at the reasons why.

Iras Weekly Column

Pitino supposedly helped get Calipari jump started into the college coaching profession many years ago but according to my sources who have a relationship with both their friendship took a wrong turn a several years ago when some information was reportedly revealed that Pitino actually took credit for giving some money out of his own pocket to help Massachusetts get Calipari under contract.

Calipari, supposedly said this was untrue and has resented the accusation ever since. Sports Illustrated did a story on the two Italian college coaching giants a few years ago and interviewed the Massachusetts A.D. at the time of the Calipari hiring. He too said there was no truth in the Pitino story of having paid for part of Cal's initial contract.

Thanks for setting that straight, Ira. Basketball Recruiting - Whispers: Final three for Muhammad?

McDonald's All-American Shabazz Muhammad claims he doesn't know where he will go to college, but he is honing in on three schools. Kansas and hometown school UNLV have fallen behind Duke, Kentucky and UCLA.

Oh, yeah!

Mathies Named to USBWA All-America Team - Kentucky Wildcats Official Athletic Site

Starting 5: Is John Calipari feeling the pressure to win Final Four? - NCAA Basketball - Sporting News

The coach who must to conceive a way to defeat Kentucky is the one that has the tough assignment. Right now, that’s Louisville’s Rick Pitino. There’s no better man for the job. He is the most inventive strategist in Division I, and he’ll have a week to think up something to bamboozle the Wildcats.

If there’s pressure on Calipari, it regards having to anticipate what Pitino might conjure and have the Wildcats prepared to deal with it.

DeCourcy is my favorite sportswriter for a reason.